Monday, September 29, 2014

Oh, Love...

"Do you think you could feel the love you experience with your husband and child if they were not part of your life today?"

I was asked that question recently and, after some reflection, responded in this way. Enjoy!

I read this article a while ago and, every once in a while, reflect on it. It is the six definitions that the ancient Greeks gave to the word "love".

I do believe that love evolves, just as our concepts of love evolve. When I was younger, I believed that love was all about giving, and making other people happy. In so doing, I was receiving (usually) love back. I didn’t realize until much later that I was giving so much love in an attempt to receive a love I never felt for myself; to fill a hole that I had never knew was there because of an upbringing that really didn’t demonstrate that love. Of course my parents loved me, but their form of love was to continually ask more of me in the belief that the more they pushed me to excel (be it in academics, socially, etc.), the more I would see their love for me.

But what it did was instil within me the feeling that I wasn’t quite good enough, and that I had to do more to earn love. I was definitely a people-pleaser and conflict-avoider!

When my (first) marriage collapsed, I began to appreciate that I had no self-love. And the work then became about filling myself up with the love I so desperately craved from other people.

That increasing love for self gave me the courage to quit my job and embark on my quests.

Those journeys opened me up to spirituality, and what (universal) Love means. I began to understand that love of the self also involves filling my heart with that (universal) Love and sharing it with the world. But I couldn’t do that if my heart was filled with fears of all kinds (fears of being alone, fears of the opinion of others, fears of change, etc.). That’s why Love to me became the tool to heal and transform all those fears. I even began to feel love and appreciation for my fears! LOL Because I understood them to be my creations, tools I had used to protect a heart that had dared to love and was too often rejected or harmed.

Using Love to heal our fears is, to me anyways, the greatest service we can offer ourselves and the world.

Now, as to whether I would feel the love that I do for Alberto and Sylvana if they weren’t in my life… I don’t know.

My love for Alberto has evolved from the time we met. We have now been together, pretty much 24x7 (with the odd exception), for thirteen years. We have gone from acquaintances to friends to partners to lovers to parents… all of which tested our concepts of love along the way.

What is fundamental in our relationship is the understanding that the spiritual journey of each is paramount, and that we are there for each other to support each other in that journey, to see the fears, to heal the hurts, to choose from a place of love rather than a place of fear. It is beyond romantic love and companionship. It is an understanding that we are independent souls, sharing this journey together, walking together… but that we don’t need each other. The greatest love I can offer him is to let him walk his path, even that means I need to be alone.

As for Sylvana, our love for her has also evolved from simply protecting her and caring for her needs, to continually instilling in her a sense of self-confidence and self-love. She is naturally a peace-maker and a bit of a perfectionist. We’re seeing that, with her, we’re being asked to continue to heal and love those aspects within ourselves, so that we may serve her in her journey. Creating peace and offering the best of yourself to any task are important, but not if grounded in fear. In trying to teach her the difference between being grounded in love or in fear, we are reinforcing that within ourselves. She is a great teacher and grand soul, as all children are.

She is also learning (and reminding us!) that love isn’t always about saying yes, and giving everything to the other. In a funny way, at times, I feel as if I’m speaking to myself as the child, telling my own (inner) child the things I wished my own parents had told me. This journey with her has been healing in ways I never could have imagined.

So, the Greeks were right. All the definitions of love reside in us, and all express themselves on this beautiful journey we all share.

Thank you for offering me the opportunity to share this with you.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Measure of Success

After last night’s presentation, I was left with a lot to consider about what success means.

We were a handful of people and, with the exception of one woman who wandered in, all friends. I swallowed my disappointment and delivered our presentation as if I were standing before thousands, with the same enthusiasm and energy, because my friends deserved all our attention as well.
But then I began reflecting on what success means. Coming from the business world, I was accustomed to looking at the numbers and measuring success or failure based on those numbers.

By those standards, our event last night was a failure.
We spoke a great deal last night about lifting our perspectives of the world, of being authentic to our calling and having the courage to follow our dreams even when no one else understands them.

I finally realized that I had been using the wrong measures all along. It’s not even about success. That what the Universe, and our Highest Self, asks is that we express divine energy in the way that only we can express it.

That we become the means through which love, compassion, peace, kindness… manifest.
Our task is to put that beautiful energy out there, and to add to the beauty, perfection and wholeness that already exist in the world.

Alberto and I spent a great deal of time thinking about why inner peace was, for us, the key to global peace. We dedicated hours of conversation around the ideas we wanted to express until they came together in the final presentation. And we both felt elevated by the dialogue. We both felt that these energies, through the words and through our voices, needed to come through.
And we could feel that energy vibrating in the room. We only spoke for 45 minutes, but the conversation afterwards lasted for more than an hour, and continued as we were packing our things and walking to our car! LOL Curiously, our talk last night focused on the fact that we need to look beyond appearances, that we often have no idea how far our peace and positive energy will travel out into the universe and change the world.

I think we needed to live that last night.
So, it has nothing to do with the number of bums in the seat, or the number of books that we sell.  It has everything to do with the opportunity to express that energy.

Each and every one of you reading this is an instrument, bringing forth those higher energies which only you can uniquely bring. No one else can paint like you do. No one else can speak like you do. No one else can care for another like you do. No one else can plant a garden like you. No one else can bring peace forth like you do. No one else can love like you do.
You are the manifest expression of divine energy, of love in all its forms.

And by that definition, any work that you do to bring that forward is, by my definition, a success.
So keep on keeping on. Keep searching for the ways to use your unique gifts to bring into manifest the grand love of the universe. Don’t let the outer circumstances, or outdated definitions of success or failure, bring you down.

You are powerful beyond measure, and are changing the world in more ways than you can possibly imagine.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Egypt: a time of transformation and surrender

This photo was taken on January 22, 2001, my first day in Egypt.

I had quit Microsoft three months earlier, and had a one-year open ticket in hand. I had never traveled alone, much less without an itinerary. I had no idea what to do with my life. I only knew that I was determined to trust my intuition and to follow omens and synchronicities, even when they often made no logical sense.

I rented an apartment in the village at the base of the Pyramids (called Nazlet-el-Samaan), and began the journey of opening myself up to the world, rather than living in fear of it. In a place driven by tourism, I quickly learned discernment, and chose the people who I saw cared for my wellbeing, and not merely my dollar value. It was a harsh awakening, and I was hurt by several people I considered friends.

But I learned a valuable lesson: to listen to that small still voice, that uncertain feeling, within that I had all too often ignored.

I stayed in Egypt for over 3 months and traveled to so many places (Luxor, Karnak, Alexandria, Aswan Dam, the Red Sea...) To me, it is a sacred place. There is a hint of the magical and eternal in every step, especially in the desert. I felt very much at ease there. I know I will, one day, return.

It also set the stage for my eventually finding myself on the Camino de Santiago two months later...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Reflections on 9/11

This day, 9/11, remains in my memory as the catalyst for the greatest journey of my life.

While on the Camino in July of that year, I received the inspiration to walk the Way of the Soul to Jerusalem. I was decided, confident that this was my path, seeing only possibilities and paying no heed to the nagging fears that insisted on surfacing…until I got off the Camino.

Conversations with family and friends only focused on the craziness of the idea, of a woman walking alone along the side of the road through countries unknown to a region that people were trying to escape from. My fears began to win over my heart. I began to put aside my calling, and to listen to reason, to fear.

9/11 shook me out of that stupor, and placed me on the path of action, of following my heart even when I didn’t have all the details worked out, of trusting in the invisible forces that had guided me on the Camino, and that were guiding me still.

I reflect on this day often, how easy it would have been to fall deeper into fear and shut myself off from the world. I saw that same struggle on the faces of so many people. Despite the horrors of the day, I also saw so much grace and dignity, so much love and compassion, so many people refusing to bow to fear and to carry on, choosing to light the way rather than close off in darkness.

If there can be a gift from this day, it was to witness that choice and to feel its power reverberating into the heart of all creation.

Namaste <3

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Responding to Conflict

During moments of conflict, Alberto and I are sometimes asked why we keep silent, why we don’t add our voices in support of one side or another, why we don’t publish inflammatory remarks or images, why we don’t condemn what we see. How, we are asked, can we be silent when image after image shows evidence of the inhumanity and cruelty being perpetrated?
Of course, at times, I feel overwhelmed by anger and despair at what I see. I keep asking myself: when are people going to wake up?  When are they going to realize that war solves nothing, no matter the arguments from either side?
It is by choice that we retreat from the heavily-charged emotions and drama. It is by choice that we disengage from destructive and negative energies. There are enough people voicing their outrage, their condemnation, not only on the streets, but on social media and media of all kinds. There is no doubt that awareness of this situation exists. The big question is: now that we are aware, how do we proceed?
Experience has shown Alberto and I, over and again, that wherever we place our attention and our energies, especially passionate ones, will inevitably manifest in our reality in ways we can’t even imagine. Let me give you a simple example that happened to us just today that powerfully demonstrates what we mean. During lunch with a friend, we spoke at length about our recent experiences with people who invade our personal space asking for donations to the charity or cause they represent. It was a passionate conversation with each of us sharing our different stories. Not ten minutes into our conversation, a woman approached our table and, leaning into us, began to ask for money, in the same intense way that we were describing at that moment. The restaurant was full, and our table was in the center of the floor, but she, as if pulled by some invisible thread, came directly to us first. She eventually made her way around all the tables, but we couldn’t help but be amazed at this indisputable synchronicity.
This is but one small example of so many more we can share that demonstrate how intense, focused attention on any subject can make it appear in our reality.
We certainly don’t condemn those who choose to condemn. We applaud the efforts of those trying to create change in whichever way they feel works best for them, and which honors their beliefs and who they are. When we see angry protests, judgments of right and wrong, attempts to create divisions, calls for retribution… to us, these are energies which are adding to the anger, the judgment, the divisions that already exist. Despite their often noble intentions, by focusing so much negatively-charged attention, we feel that they may be amplifying the conflict more than healing it.
We prefer to seek out those who are choosing to create peace and reconciliation despite the horrors they are living. We place our energies and attention on the builders and peace-makers. Although the media may not report on them, they exist. Among them are: Palestine-loves-Israel, Israel-loves-Palestine, Iran-loves-Israel & Palestine, Parents Circle - Families Forum, YaLa-Young Leaders, Jews and Arabs Refuse to be Enemies, Jerusalem Hug, The Peace Factory, Peace It Together, Leading Leaders for Peace, and so many more.
We look within, always, to heal the divisions within our own hearts, from the personal to the emotional and spiritual, believing that inner peace and unity will manifest in outer peace and unity. As Gandhi said, we must be the peace we wish to see in the world.
We hold the image of a united people in our minds, feeding it with our thoughts and belief that it is not only possible, but happening, using the examples of the above-mentioned groups as a foundation.
Above all else, we remember that we chose our life and circumstances for a purpose, just as surely as every single human being on this earth has similarly chosen, for reasons our earthly minds cannot fathom, but which a greater Wisdom and Love does indeed comprehend.
And as difficult as it is to do, we hold on to the belief that, no matter how heart-wrenching the imagery or stories told, the life of each and every one of these individuals served a grand purpose in their spiritual journey and the journeys of all those whose lives they touched.
The days, or moments, when we feel strong and connected with Source, we extend the Light and Love to envelop all of creation, sensing this energy penetrate to the Divine core of every being, just as we feel it penetrating ours. In this way, we lift ourselves and the world around us.
In the silence, we create #peace.
#makepeace #iampeace #JewsandArabsRefuseToBeEnemies.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Elevating the Conversation

"Lift the energy of the Earth, of the denser matter, into the higher planes of Love. There, they are transformed back into their essence, revealing a beauty and grace hitherto unperceived by them and you. This is what is meant by spiritualizing matter.
It means elevating the conversation about the issues of the day, coming at them from a perspective untainted by fear, judgment or expectation, and seeing them as mere creations.
And as mere creations, they can be re-created, or created anew.
That is your work on the Earth, the denser, plane.
Lift the conversation. Reach for higher words, higher thoughts, higher ideas.
Align yourself with the energies of the Light. Place yourself always in the Light, and watch the elements unfold."
I had this reflection late last week during one of my morning walks. I believe these words emerged as a result of a nagging feeling that I had after watching a private screening of "The Change Agents", a wonderfully done movie about the damaging effects of industrialization on the environment. Although the intention was to inform, and the overall message to inspire hope and positive action, so much focus on the problem, and its gravity, ended up leaving me emotionally drained. 

Of course this begs the question of how to focus on a solution without being dragged down by the "problem". No matter the issue of the day, this, I believe, is the greatest challenge. Raising awareness of a situation is important, but once aware, how do we "spiritualize" it? How do we elevate the conversation? I think this is what Einstein meant when he stated that a problem can’t be solved from the same thinking or level of consciousness that created it.

But what does a Love-based solution look like? This is where my thinking is often stretched, where I am asked to suspend my notions of what is, and what is not, possible, and to wade into the realm of imagination, of creativity, of the unknown, to try and tap into a thought that was not present before.

To tap into those realms, to open myself up to the impossible, even if only fleetingly, requires me to be in that state of consciousness, in that place of all-possibility. It requires a mind emptied of thought, and a heart filled with a calm knowing. It requires an inner stillness despite the outer turmoil. I can’t claim to have mastered this path, but I better understand the power of presence and connection as the drivers of action.   
As I now look at the issues of the day, I try to reach for that higher thought about the situation. I try not to fall into the emotion and drama of it all. I also try not to judge, which is not easy, but rather be a dispassionate observer, aware but unattached. I envelop the situation in light, knowing that there is a higher purpose at work, even though I may not understand it, and that this purpose is very much a loving one, inviting us to reach higher (into Love) rather than fall deeper (into fear). That is a moment by moment, individual by individual, choice. No one can make it for us. No one can enter the recesses of our hearts and minds to accompany us there. No one can walk this path for us.

But I do believe that as we continually reach for those higher thoughts, those higher feelings, those higher perspectives - as insignificant as they may seem in the beginning - we are elevating the conversation. We are inviting a different kind of dialogue, and energy, into our lives. We are "spiritualizing" matter and, in consequence, raising our own, and collective, consciousness.

If we were each to do this with whatever issue we are passionate about, imagine the conversation we would have. Imagine the incredible range of inspired ideas, and actions, we would all offer the world. Imagine how transformed we and our world would be.

It does make you think...